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From The Socialist newspaper, 5 September 2018

Shop workers hungry for 10 an hour now and an end to zero-hour contracts

Usdaw members on the TUC march, 12.5.18, photo David Owens

Usdaw members on the TUC march, 12.5.18, photo David Owens   (Click to enlarge)

'Adam Viteos', shop worker

I work as an assistant manager in a high street retail chain and one of the most regular complaints I get from my staff is that they are hungry.

Working on a four-hour contract, it is impossible for them to budget when they are only guaranteed such low hours each week.

Even lower management such as myself are only guaranteed 24 hours a week, with a real-terms pay cut waiting for us upon promotion as we lose our overtime rate. Full-time contracts are only given to store managers and deputy store managers.

Every member of staff regularly discusses with management about getting more hours. We recently had two people leave, both because they weren't getting enough hours.

Instead of raising everybody's hours, the company was quick to recruit two new people which has frustrated all of those who are crying out for more hours.

My company isn't alone, low and zero-hour contracts are rife throughout retail. The result of this is a huge rise in underemployment which is bringing with it a whole range of issues.

Stress, mental health issues and poverty are increasingly becoming the norm in my workplace. Things have become so desperate that we have started to organise communal meals to share the cost of food. It has built camaraderie among staff and we've begun to organise in a union.

Retail union Usdaw voted at its annual conference in April to build a campaign around the demand of a 16-hour minimum contract, except when the employee specifically requests less, coupled with a 10 an hour minimum wage.

This is something that members in my store have welcomed. But the campaign needs to be built if we're to rally the hundreds of thousands of retail workers to organise and push back against such conditions.

The anger bubbling away under the surface is a ticking time bomb. We're hungry for sustainable jobs and by the end of each month we're just plain hungry. We will not tolerate this forever.

We demand:

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In The Socialist 5 September 2018:


What we think

Unions must lead in fight to kick Tories out

Labour: Blairite wreckers must be given the boot

Theresa May's 'Chequers deal' mauled by Johnson and EU: fight for a socialist Brexit!


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Fight racism, fight capitalism!

Legal Costs Fund Appeal launched for former Derby TUSC election agent

Birmingham Socialist sales success

Obituary: Stan Herschel


Socialist Party news and analysis

Tory and Blairite racist policy is behind Windrush fatality

Self-harm soars among young: fight the mental health crisis

Them & Us

Capitalism in crisis: news in brief

What we heard


PCS union

PCS union: build the fight for a pay rise and against austerity - re-elect Chris Baugh

DWP: PCS union builds fightback on pay

PCS members in Land Registry demand 6% pay rise


International socialist news and analysis

Germany: violent attacks in Chemnitz - how can the far right be stopped?


Workplace news and analysis

Shop workers hungry for 10 an hour now and an end to zero-hour contracts

Guards continue fight against driver-only operation following Merseyrail victory

Higher education ballot: vote Yes and strike for pay and equality!

Housing workers walkout forces improved pay deal

Liebherr Sunderland strike continues


Opinion

A day in the life of a carer: "I am having trouble feeding my children on my wages"

The Socialist inbox

GDPR data laws: Punishing workers for human mistakes


 

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Related links:

Retail:

triangleContinue the fight to protect safety

triangleMandatory masks in shops law

triangleSunday trading: Government blinks first

triangleDebenham's protests: Workers must not pay price of Covid-19

triangleResist relaxation of Sunday trading laws

Zero-hour contracts:

triangleLabour and the fight for a shorter working week

triangleWorkplace victory emboldens retail workers to get organised

triangleTrade union action can end low pay

triangleLaughable research denies low-pay scandal

Pay:

triangleSocialist Party & Unison NEC member Hugo Pierre (centre), alongside others, taking part in the 8 August health workers' protests for a 15% pay increase. Photo Sarah SE

triangleCampaign stalls on jobs, pay, NHS and racism

triangleWhat would socialist universities look like?

Usdaw:

triangleDebenhams: Fighting closures and redundancies

triangleWorkers need a 'new deal' - at least 12 an hour now!

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